Wings of Honneamise Review (Anime)

Wings of Honneamise is Gainax’s first foray into the animated film market and, with popularity thanks to the likes of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, it’s great to see that Anime Limited have brought the 1987 classic to UK shores.
I’m iffy with Gainax as Gurren Lagann is one of my favourite animes but Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is one show that I could have done without watching, but I kept an open mind when viewing Wings of Honneamise which seemed to cater towards Gainax’s strength in creating a wonderfully woven, coming of age tale – which sees the characters in space, of course. As with mine and Gainax’s history together though, my thoughts on Wings of Honneamise are, once again, at battle with each other.
Wings of Honneamise follows Shirotsugh Lhadatt as he joins the Royal Space Force (RSF) with dreams to become the first man in space. Along with the encouragement of his love interest, Riquinni Nonderaiko, he keeps his head held high against the criticism that the RSF receives as they’re seen as a waste of money and resources – many believe that you can only help via fighting and the RSF has no fighting to do, and so they’re seen as a joke team. I love the sound of the premise but feel that Gainax’s execution is lacking in storytelling, with slow pacing and many dull moments interspersed between the enjoyable humour and character relationships.

There’s a real sense of camaraderie in the RSF but, sadly, this isn’t touched upon as much as I’d have liked it too, and I’d have liked to see the RSF do more in the film than what we see. Gainax have tried to strike a balance between plot progression and character development but fell short on both aspects, with little really happening in both areas and the story itself struggling to completely keep my attention. I love world-building, strong stories and watching characters grow but none of these aspects fully satisfied me by the time the film concluded, making me feel underwhelmed despite the films old but fantastic animation and decent voice-acting.
I found the film confusing at times with many cuts making me wonder if it’s a flashback of sorts, and many things happened that seemed to be out of the blue – sometimes rewinding can refresh your memory somewhat but I was still left confused, although it’s not a complex film – and some of the action felt like it was included solely to spice things up rather than to compliment the film itself. As far as the story goes, my favourite part is watching the RSF messing around with each other, and it’s a shame that these friendships are hardly expanded upon. I do like that it touches on Religion though, and portrays it in a neutral light and stresses the importance of faith and believing in something greater than yourself -if you’re going to Space, you might want to pray for safety regardless!
Despite its age, Gainax shows that it’s capable of some outstanding animation. I watched it on DVD and struggle to see how it can look much better on blu-ray but Anime Limited have done a great job with the home release of Wings of Honneamise, and hopefully those who may refuse to watch older films due to their older animation will give this a go if they’re interested. The level of detail is staggering and, as some of the images here show you, the characters and areas look phenomenal and put some of the animation of today to shame in spite of less tools available to them. The flying animation is fluid and grand in scale, and Gainax do a good job of capturing the thrill, hope and excitement of Lhadatt becoming RSF’s driving force.

Of course, being as old as it is, you can’t expect an absolutely flawless remaster with some scenes being remarkably grainy and noticeably standard definition. It’s clear that Anime Limited did the best with what they had, and the overall product is impressive and looks a sight better than I assume it originally did back in 1987 but do expect some drops in quality when watching the film, as they should be expected anyway due to its age.
Whilst the film is host to a forgettable OST, the English dub is high-quality and features a few notable names including Bryan Cranston and Steve Blum; during a time when English dubs tended to be overly-acted or somewhat campy, it’s refreshing to hear how natural the Wings of Honneamise dub is. You can watch it in Japanese with English subtitles if you’d prefer. The audio translated well to the remastered release and, once again, I can’t fault Anime Limited’s handling of Wings of Honneamise.
There are minimal extras consisting of trailers and a short pilot film, I assume created to garner interest for the main film, but I can only speak for the standard DVD release. I’d have loved to have seen this on Blu-ray to see how different the quality is but the DVD release is fantastic with outstanding visuals and clear audio that stretch the original content to their absolute furthest. I expected a lot out of the movie, being Gainax, and was left slightly disappointed and underwhelmed by the story but the visuals and some of the topics that are dealt with make Wings of Honneamise worth a watch. Wings of Honneamise recently released so if you’re interested, you can buy it on DVD and Blu-ray now.

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